Page 7, 22nd February 2002

22nd February 2002
Page 7
Page 7, 22nd February 2002 — From Dr Michael Straiton

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Locations: Istanbul, Surrey


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From Dr Michael Straiton

Sir, Gerard Noel, in his piece on Pope Pius VII's relations with

Napoleon makes a damaging and unjust comparison with Pope Pius XII and his approach to Hitler when he states that "both hoped by appeasing their adversaries to protect the Church, but Pius VII, unlike Pius XII, saw the light, and by making public his opposition to Napoleon, won the admiration of all of Europe". In fact Pius MI was far from silent.

As papal Nuncio to Germany in the 1930s Eugenio Pacelli delivered 40 speeches whilst in that country which contained attacks on Nazism or condemnation of Hitler's doctrines.

As Pius XI's Secretary of State in 1937, Cardinal Pacelli drafted the encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge ("with burning anxiety") roundly condemning Nazi racist policy and had it secretly distributed to Catholic churches throughout Germany. The S.S. journal Das Schwarze Korps retorted that "every sentence in it was an insult to the new Germany".

The day after his election to the papacy on 2 March 1939 the Berliner Morgenpost wrote: "The election of Pacelli is not favourably accepted in Germany, since he has always been hostile to

National Socialism".

The Pope's outspoken 1941 Christmas broadcast, headlined by the New York Times: "The voice of Pope Pius XII is a lonely voice in the silence and darkness enveloping Europe", caused such savage Nazi reprisals on the Jews that the Pope was obliged to replace words by actions. Unlike his predecessors Pius VI and Pius VII who were both deported to France. Pius XII managed by consummate skill to retain his neutral foothold inside enemy territory to set up a network of relief agencies, managed by his nuncios across Europe and coordinated by Archbishop Angelo Roncalli in Istanbul.

These were so effective that after the war the Jewish writer Pinchas Lapide, on the staff of the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, estimated that "Pius XII was instrumental in saving as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands"... "which exceed by far those saved by all other churches, religious institutions and rescue organisations combined".

Yours faithfully MICHAEL STRATTON, Farnham. Surrey

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